PLACERVILLE, Calif. – A busy month of July continues at Placerville Speedway this Saturday night with the El Dorado County Fairgrounds quarter-mile playing host to the 16th annual Tribute to Al Hinds.
Al Hinds was the second promoter of Placerville Speedway. He took operation of the track with business partner Richard Hirst from its founder, Bruno Romani, in 1968, three years after it first opened when the facility was built around an existing community football field.
“I knew Al Hinds growing up, he was a good friend of my Dad’s, they both were local businessmen too,” said longtime track announcer and publicist Bill Sullivan, who is now the Associate Publisher of Gold Country Media. “Later in life when I started working for the newspaper and then the speedway I really learned all the great things Al did for the sport back in the day and all the way up to his passing, he was always the first one to the track and the first one to give you advice, if you were a driver, a race promoter or a young announcer who thought you knew it all. He enjoyed sharing jokes but most of all he enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the sport and even though times and technology had changed, Al was just about always correct when it came to topics in the sport.”
The operator of a local machine shop by trade, Hinds loved the community where he lived. In his final years of life, he enjoyed sitting with some of his best friends every night in the grandstands at Placerville Speedway and loved watching young talent make a name for themselves in the sport.
“When I learned of Al’s passing, it was a pretty sad day for many of us,” said Sullivan. “It made perfect sense that we had to do something in the man’s honor. I remember making a phone call to Mike Dent who worked at a local auto dealership, Mike connected us with his boss Tony Montalbano who agreed to fund the event with bonus money and then boom, a special race was born and here we are 16 years later.”
This Saturday Sullivan will attend the event to help honor Hinds, as he also gets ready to make a return on the mic for the Aug. 10 Legends Night event.
“There’s always something special about this race at Placerville, Al touched so many lives with his wisdom and contagious smile and sense of humor so it’s always rewarding to remember him,” Sullivan said. “My trips back to Placerville have been far and few over the last few years due to my career that has long hours and travel. But I’m looking forward to coming back this Saturday night to the house that Al built.”
Auburn’s Andy Forsberg continues to lead the way in his bid for a seventh Thompson’s Family of Dealerships Winged 360 Sprint Car title. Fordsberg has claimed a trio of victories and used a runner up finish last Thursday to give himself a 36-point cushion back to second place Kalib Henry, who continues to search for his first Placerville Speedway victory.
Veteran Bobby McMahan has returned to the track this season and finds himself third in the standings, with Tony Gualda and 16-year-old Jodie Robinson round out the top-five.